Adventist education has a strong presence among the community in Grand Junction, and community outreach is at the center of the education experience at Intermountain Adventist Academy. Classes at IAA began on Aug. 12 with 32 students enrolled, including five community children. The five families had a specific reason to send their children to IAA.

IAA head teacher Joel Reyes explained, “We have two (families) that are coming from public school. For them, when education went via Zoom last year, in their opinion the public school system was a disaster for basic education. They were impressed with what we did and how we handled it. They are afraid of the results of another lockdown, and they would rather be with us.”

Outreach opportunities exist for pupils of IAA. “There’s a Catholic community service here that has an outreach program for the homeless,” adds Reyes. “They have daily lunches and free laundromats for them. We’ve volunteered in the past with them.  The Catholics are wonderful!”

While the current pandemic has made volunteer opportunities difficult, hope exists that the school will once again be able to give back to the community. “I’m trying to work out something with the local parks department because I want to find something outdoors where student can distance,” said Reyes.

Educators are facing unique challenges in teaching while a pandemic ravishes the nation. “It’s hard to stay apart. It’s hard to listen to kids read from 6 feet away,” said Jami Simpson, second through fourth grade teacher. “And the masks. We try, but they don’t always stay on.”

Temperature checks are performed on students each morning, and those students who wish to attend without wearing a mask are kept away from the others.

With 17 students in fifth through eighth grade, IAA moved the classroom to the fellowship hall of the Grand Junction Church while the gym was being retrofitted with audio absorption boards to maintain social distancing. Having a classroom in the church brings its own unique challenges, including moving all the desks and teaching materials against the wall after school on Friday and arriving early on Monday to re-assemble the classroom.

Click here to view a video of the first day of class for IAA.